Tag Archives: scotland

SF: How will we pay for it?

Scotland's Future Yesterday, the Bank of England announced that interest rates would not rise from the historic low of 0.5% at least until 2015, as the Bank “believes the UK economy is running at around 1.5pc below its potential, and said it would need to make up more lost ground before it would consider raising rates”: that “productivity was much weaker than expected, while surveys pointed to less slack in the economy.”

Austerity is stifling the UK economy. The Tory/LibDem oft-repeated claim that there are more people in work than ever before is technically true but says nothing about the real state of the economy: people in part-time work, work on minimum wage, work below minimum wage: more people than ever before in work but claiming benefits.

What of the Scottish economy?

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Filed under Economics, Indyref White Paper, Politics, Scottish Politics

Sense and Worth: Burns Night and Peter Tatchell Day

One hundred and ninety-three years apart, Robert Burns and Peter Tatchell share the same birthday, 25th January. Today Alex Salmond announces the launch of the consultation for the independence referendum, but let’s talk about Tatchell and Burns, first.

[Update, 14:49 – the independence consultation is now live, and will be open till 11th May 2012 – 14 weeks.]

Peter Tatchell Day

You are maddening.
You are threatening.
You are insanely brave.
A Poem For Peter Tatchell, By Stephen Fry

Peter Tatchell was born in 1952, in Australia. He’s been an activist for human rights for nearly his entire life, beginning at school, where he campaigned to set up a setting up a scholarship scheme for Aboriginal pupils, and to abolish the death penalty. He came to the UK in 1971, and joined the Gay Liberation Front. Over the four decades since then, his campaigning activities have ranged from sit-ins in pubs that refused to serve “poofs” to attempting to arrest Robert Mugabe for torture – during which he was beaten unconscious by Mugabe’s bodyguards. He’s marched with Moscow Pride and stood for by-elections (once, ironically, losing to a closety bisexual Liberal candidate because the Liberal party went all-out in homophobic attacks on Tatchell): he has always stood up for equality and human rights, wherever he thought it right and at considerable personal cost.
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Filed under Equality, LGBT Equality, Scottish Politics

Gay marriage in the united kingdoms

Cardinal Keith O’Brien says the consultation would be ‘utterly subverted’ if “foreign submissions” were accepted. (And by “foreign”, he means from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.)

“Allowing thousands of respondents outwith Scotland to actively participate in our political process utterly subverts this stance,” the cardinal said. “Even to collate and separately identify non-Scottish responses would be to undermine the singular sovereignty of the Scottish people.” Scottish Catholic Observer

Pay very close attention, I shall say this only once. Scotland is a country, since 1999 with devolved powers to our own parliament, within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Wales is a principality, with a smaller range of devolved powers to an Assembly. Northern Ireland is, well, complicated. Within the UK, people are free to travel without a passport. Scotland has a different legal system from England and Wales, which includes different legislation about marriage and related laws, but if you’re English born and bred you can come to Scotland to get married and you and your spouse will be recognised as legally married wherever you go in the UK. Gretna Green weddings weren’t just a McGuffin of Regency romances, they really happened because the age at which a person could get legally married without permission from their parents or guardians has always been different in Scotland. A change to marriage law in Scotland could mean that couples who could not marry in England can come to Scotland, be married here, and return home, legally wed even though the law in England wouldn’t allow it.

Will that happen with gay marriage? Nobody knows – yet. (It’s also possible that the English courts would decide that a same-sex marriage in Scotland would be recognised as a civil partnership in England.) But it’s a distinct possibility. So while no pro-equal marriage organisation called for responses from outwith Scotland, English and other UK responses to the consultation were not rejected out of hand, and the Scottish government has said they’ll separate them from the Scottish responses but give them consideration.

But, oh dear. What’s this? What organisation at 70 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8AX, has been urgently calling for responses from outwith Scotland, which Cardinal O’Brien is so strongly against? That would be “Christian Concern for our Nation” (screencap), which is agented by Camerons Solicitors LLP from the 70 Wimpole Street address in London. And which owns the trademark of the Wilberforce Academy, which is funded by the Alliance Defense Fund (sorry, “is in association with”, thank you), a right-wing group from the US where they’ve been funding anti-gay work since 1995.

Seventeen faith groups and 24 religious leaders have written to First Minister Alex Salmond demanding assurances that Scottish Government plans to legalise same-sex marriage will respect religious freedom. … They warn the First Minister that they would “strongly oppose” any attempt to restrict same-sex marriage to purely civil ceremonies, and seek a “firm assurance from the Scottish Government that any proposed legislation will allow those religious and humanist bodies that want to conduct same-sex marriages to do so”. Herald

Now that’s the Scotland I love.

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Filed under Equality, LGBT Equality, Politics, Religion, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

Scotland for Marriage

I responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on lifting the ban on same-sex couples marrying in Scotland. (You can too: www.equalmarriage.org.uk.)

Question 10: Do you agree that the law in Scotland should be changed to allow same-sex marriage?

Yes. Please give reasons for your answer: There’s no reason to ban same-sex couples from getting married and that by itself is enough reason to change the law. Scotland ought to be a country which stands for fairness, justice, and equality. It should be up to each couple to decide for themselves how they want to solemnise their relationship. There’s been a lot of nonsense talked about how this will “damage” or “redefine” or “taint” marriage, or somehow lead to polygamous marriage or nebulous dangers to society. All of this has been said before by the Christian Right in the US – and all of it has been disproved in court in the US. It’s a sad shame that so many religious figures in Scotland are taking their cue directly from right-wing hate groups that use Christianity as their excuse to promote homophobia. They haven’t got any real reasons to oppose same-sex couples getting married, and there are solid reasons why a couple would want to marry – their religious beliefs, their preference for a universally-understood relationship, improved international recognition of their status if they travel. Denial of marriage to same-sex couples is a pointless discrimination.”

Question 13: Do you agree that same-sex couples should be able to get married through both civil ceremonies (conducted by a registrar) and religious ceremonies (conducted by those religious groups that want to)?

Yes. Please give reasons for your answer: Mixed-sex couples in Scotland have always been able to decide if they want to get married by a civil or a religious ceremony – there’s no reason to ban same-sex couples from the same choice.

Question 19: If Scotland should introduce same-sex marriage, do you consider that civil partnership should remain available?

Yes. Please give reasons for your answer: Some couples may still prefer to register via civil partnership instead of marriage, and the choice should remain open for them. Civil partnership should be opened up to mixed-sex couples. This would simplify international recognition as couples who have registered a civil partnership elsewhere (in New Zealand or in the Netherlands, for example) could be recognised as having a civil partnership in Scotland, whether same-sex or mixed-sex.

Question 1: Do you agree that legislation should be changed so that civil partnerships could be registered through religious ceremonies?

No. Please give reasons for your answer: I think it would be unfair to a registrar. Registrars perform civil partnership ceremonies and they shouldn\’t be required as part of their job to perform a religious ceremony which they may not agree with.

Question 5 & 11: Do you agree that religious bodies should not be required to conduct same-sex marriages or civil partnerships if it is against their wishes?

Yes. Please give reasons for your answer: Basic religious freedom. No religion should be required to solemnise a couple’s relationship if they feel it’s against their faith. Besides, who wants a dour pastor girning away as he sourly performs the marriage, on what should be the happiest day of their lives? Common sense and religious liberty both say it shouldn’t be required of a minister of religion who doesn’t want to do it.

Question 20: Do you have any other comments? For example, do you have any comments on the potential implications of the proposals for transgender people?

At the moment, with same-sex marriage and mixed-sex civil partnership banned by law, if a couple are married / in a civil partnership and one of them wants to transition, they’re required to get a divorce before the trans partner can get the final gender recognition certificate. This is profoundly wrong. No couple should be forced into divorcing against their will. If the law were changed to allow for same-sex marriage and mixed-sex civil partnership, mandated divorce in the gender recognition process would disappear.

Responding takes from two to ten minutes, depending how verbose you get. Just click here and get started.

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